seeking | sharing | venting | whatever…ing

No, really! I want to know!

with 2 comments

What is “required” for a person to be considered a Christian?

Is it simply believing that Jesus died for my sins? Period?

Is it belief AND repentance?

Is it belief AND repentance AND obedience? Obedience to Jesus’s commands? AND Paul’s?

Is it belief AND repentance AND obedience AND baptism?

Is it belief AND repentance AND obedience AND baptism AND worshipping with other believers on a regular basis?

Is it belief AND repentance AND obedience AND baptism AND worshipping with other believers on a regular basis AND that the Bible is the word of God?

And when I say believing in Jesus… do I have to believe certain things about this Jesus in order for Him to be the “correct Jesus” that I should be believing in? Do I have to believe in His virgin birth? In every miracle? In His being second person of the Trinity? In a bodily resurrection? In a Jesus who is coming back to earth again?

Is it believing the Nicene Creed? Every part of it?

I’m not kidding when I ask this question! What are the requirements to be considered by others to be a true follower of Christ? Honestly, I’m not worried about my own standing with Jesus. But the more blogging I do, it seems that lots of people who claim the name of Christian want to put obligations and requirements on others who also call themselves Christians, but who approach their faith differently. This attitude distresses me greatly.

I might feel very strongly and passionately that MY way of following Jesus and being a believer fully in this world is best exemplified by my living out a social gospel. Perhaps that is where I am meant to be at this place and time in my life and in the history of humanity; however, it certainly doesn’t mean I have the right to knock a fellow believer whose believes her faith is best lived out in preaching, rather than service. It seems to me that if we just gave each other the freedom to live out our faith as we best understand it, we’d all be more better examples of the grace and freedom found in a life lived with/for Jesus.

I posted a few weeks ago on a blog about Women in Ministry (specifically women as pastors), that I believe we believers actually have a hard time with the freedom we’re given in Jesus. When Paul speaks about letting our conscience (the Holy Spirit) be our guide, I think we want that for ourselves, but we have a heck of a time extending that freedom to others.

My point in the blog was that, if after prayerful reading of scripture and listening to God, a woman feels called to preach, she should preach. If after the same reading and listening, another person feels they can not sit under the leadership of a woman, then they shouldn’t. The woman who feels led to preach should live out her faith where the seed she sows will fall on good soil. The people who feel like they can’t have a woman pastor need to live out their faith where they can best tend the seed given to them. Why does it have to be an “either/or” situation when it comes to God’s will being accomplished? Why can’t it be a “both/and?” Why the need to say one is right and the other is wrong. When did we become one anothers’ holy spirits?

Besides the different areas of faith realization/actualization that we might be called to, I think it’s important to remember that we’re all at very different places on our respective paths. There might be a 30-year-old who’s been a quiet follower of Jesus his whole life, it being ingrained in him as a lifestyle. And then you might have a 70-year-old atheist who has a striking religious conversion that sets him passionately on a path to tell others about his experience. Does the quietly-lived life have more/less value than the dramatic conversion? Does the youth/seniority of the one have more value than the other? Does the longevity/brevity of the walk increase/diminish its sincerity? I think the answer is no, across the board. Extending grace and freedom to both will allow both to find their own special way to contribute to kingdom growth.

So, back to the original question. What does it mean to be a Christian? What defines a Christian?

Written by blogicalinks

November 12, 2006 at 12:38 am

Posted in Seeking

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Cheryl, sorry it took so long to get back to you.

    Here’s my view, for what it’s worth…

    The ONLY doctrine preached by Jesus and the apostles was love – love of God and love of fellow humans. Not a weak, sentimental love but the meek love which is the sign of a truly great character, the only kind of love whereby it is possible to ‘love your enemies’.

    It was the outward revelation of this inner depth of character which demonstrated that the Kingdom of God “cometh not with observation…for, lo, the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

    The simplicity and purity of this teaching did not prove sufficient to the Graeco-Roman church ‘fathers’ and still does not prove sufficient today.

    The minds of the said ‘fathers’ were set in the key of a different structure to that of the Hebrew apostles and the doctrines built up around the person of Jesus are a reflection of gentile theology.

    The major church doctrines are ‘unscriptural’ – demonstrably so. The Trinity, Virgin Birth, and the various ‘divinity’ teachings focus completely upon the personality of Jesus and the effect which it is assumed he produced upon his contemporaries.

    To accept this, is to accept that the issues for which he lived and died were issues applicable only to that time and those circumstances.

    Many preachers and theologians reason that because these doctrines have been taught for so many years, they are somehow thus endowed with weight, with truth.
    The only truth in this view is that they have been taught long enough to become ‘traditional’. Jesus himself told the Pharisees that they made ‘void the word of God’ by their tradition. (Mark 7:13). Those who rely on ‘tradition’ to bolster their arguments stand in precisely the same position as their intellectual ancestors.

    The expectancy and hope of the Israelites was that, some day, one would arise who would save them from their sins and show them the way to eternal life. The Hebrews had very definite ideas about this man and these were recorded in the books of the Old Covenant. Many Christians are unaware of what exactly the Hebrews did expect and this ignorance has facilitated the building up of the erroneous doctrines of the Christian Churches.

    When the fervent Hebrew hope of a ‘messiah’ transitioned to a practical reality in Jesus, it moved John to write: “All things came into existence through him, and apart from him, not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness but the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:3-5. See also Acts 26:18)

    Thus did John express his philosophy concerning the ultimate resurrection of those who lived endeavouring to emulate the righteousness of Jesus, and died “knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also with Jesus.” (2 Cor 4:14)

    The emphasis today is placed upon some creed or confession of faith rather than upon this message of good tidings:

    “But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned from which things some having swerved have turned aside into
    VAIN TALKING; desiring to be TEACHERS OF THE LAW, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm.” (1 Tim 1:7)

    Eternal life is to be found in spirit, not doctrines. Jesus’ true message, unfettered by doctrines, brings hope and a sense of human dignity to the despised and rejected of the Earth.

    The New Testament writers enumerate principles to follow in order that Christians living many centuries later may become one with Jesus. Where John preached the gospel of love, Paul announced redemption by a inner and spiritual identification with Jesus, with a self-imposed crucifixion and resurrection.

    Church doctrines can deliver no such message.

    If Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth today, he would not ‘measure up’ to the false criteria established by these doctrines.

    He would perhaps be branded a ‘heretic’, a ‘malcontent’, a ‘blasphemer’, or a ‘troublemaker’.

    Of one thing we can be reasonably certain – a great body of ‘Christians’ would be in the forefront of those shouting “away with him”!

    Oh, and by the way, it is yet to be decided by a higher authority just who is, or is not, a ‘Christian.’



    December 9, 2006 at 3:26 pm

  2. […] What is required to for eternal life? I posed this question in an earlier blog, but basically asked it in terms of what is required to a “Christian?” One might give a simple answer of “faith in Jesus as your personal Savior.” I say simple because it omits repentance and works and being born again and baptism and following Jesus, and keeping the commandments and so on. (You will find all of these are answers to the questions in the Bible about how to obtain eternal life.) And then hangs on which “Jesus” one is referring to… must He be virgin born, second person of a trinity, bodily resurrected, etc. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: